Archive for the ‘Science’ category

Pandora Sphinx Moth Visits Neighborhood

August 22, 2017

Pandora sphinx moth hanging out by the mail box, which also gives an indication of size.

I was excited to see a new moth at my home yesterday. It was hanging out on the wall by our mail box from just before 11 a.m. to after 6:30 pm. It was large and green, which actually made it easy relatively easy to identify.

According to Wikipedia, it is a “Pandora sphinx moth (Eumorpha pandorus), also called the pandorus sphinx moth, [and] is a North American moth in the family Sphingidae. It is a large, greenish gray moth with darker patches and pink edges and small pink eyespots. The underside is usually pale yellow-green or brown. It has a wingspan of 3¼–4½ inches (8.2–11.5 cm), females being slightly larger than males. Pandora sphinx moths fly during dusk. Some places see only one generation a year, while others see two.”

This isn’t the first cool moth that I’ve seen in or around our garden. In May 2014 a hummingbirdmoth visited the garden and I was able to take a few short videos of the guest.

Below is a larger image of the Pandora sphinx moth.

Fossils at Park View School

August 17, 2017

A while ago I found a website that explores fossils in the architecture of Washington, D.C. by Christopher Barr. The site is organized by geological periods and shows examples of fossils that are in stone used in local buildings. I was immediate drawn to the sections on Sacred Heart Church and the Unification Church on 16th Street.

But as I reviewed the site, I suspected that we would also have fossils in the limestone used at the Park View School — and after inspecting the school, my hunch was right. As near as I can tell, the limestone appears to be Indiana Limestone from the Mississippian period. Below are photos of some of the fossils I found at the school.

(An area of trace fossils or, more technically, “ichnofossils”. These are located on the north side of the entry doors on Warder Street.)

(The structures that resemble netting are typically fenestrate bryozoans.)

Photos from The Smithsonian’s Hall of Extinct Monsters (ca. 1915)

March 6, 2014
Triceratops skill. Photo ca. 1915, from author's collection.

Triceratops skill. Photo ca. 1915, from author’s collection.

I’ve long had an affinity for the National Museum of Natural History’s Dinosaur Hall. My love of the hall and its collection only deepened after I learned that the museum’s original “Dinosaur Hunter”, Charles Whitney Gilmore, lived here in Park View at 451 Park Road. Soon, on April 28th, the hall will be closing for a $48 million makeover that is long overdue. It won’t be completed until 2019, meaning the collections will be off view for the next five years.

So, in addition to giving folks the heads up to head down to the mall and view the Dinosaur Hall one last time before it closes for a while, I’m sharing the following photos taken ca. 1915 of the Hall of Extinct Monsters, taken a few short years after the National Museum of Natural History first opened the hall to the public on October 15, 1911.

Please note the photograph of the Triceratops skeleton which is particularly important to Gilmore’s story and his start at the museum. It was in 1903 Gilmore first received a contract to prepare one of the Marsh collection skulls of the horned dinosaur Triceratops for the museum and then was hired as a full-time preparatory in 1904. By 1905, with the help of  preparator Norman H. Boss (who had just arrived that year and previously had also worked at the Carnegie Museum), Gilmore had mounted the skeleton of the Triceratops, the first skeleton of this dinosaur ever mounted for display.

Enjoy the photos.

Triceratops(Triceratops skeleton mounted by Gilmore and Boss in 1905. Photo ca. 1915 from collection of the author.)

Mastodon(Photo of Mastodon. Photo ca. 1915 from collection of the author.)

Stegosaurus stenops(Stegosaurus stenops – Marsh 1887. The type specimen is exhibited as it was found in the field and has unfortunately gained the nickname of “the roadkill”. Until the 1990s, it was the most complete stegosaur ever found, and formed the basis of most of the reconstructions of this dinosaur. Photo ca. 1915 from collection of the author.)

Basilosaurus(Basilosaurus, now in the Sant Ocean Hall. Photo ca. 1915 from collection of author.)

Pareiasaurus baini(Pareiasaurus baini. Photo ca. 1915 from collection of the author.)

Science Saturday: Scientists Keep Water Liquid Far Below Zero Degrees

February 6, 2010

I know this topic has nothing to do with the neighborhood. In fact, it has nothing to do with the City. All that aside, I really enjoy science news and thought others might too. I won’t promise to make this a regular feature on this blog, but since I generally don’t post on weekends I thought sharing science related articles on Saturday every now and again wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

The news I found interested this week I heard on NPR yesterday. The two key discoveries shared in the story were that a “scientific team found that dust-free water on a smooth, clean surface will drop well below 32 Fahrenheit (zero Celsius) before it freezes” and that “on a positively charged surface, the water freezes from the bottom up, and on a negative surface, the water freezes from the top down.”

You can read a fuller article or listen to the feature from the NPR Web site.

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